Saturday, April 14, 2012
WISE WORDS FROM PETER
Early Wednesday morning I came across this sentence in Acts, at the end of the story of Peter's healing a crippled man in the temple area: "Peter addressed the people, 'You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we made him walk'" (Acts 3:12)?
Just before I read that passage I'd been experiencing frustration over my inability to overcome certain difficulties in my life, and then I came upon Peter's sentence -- or should I say it came upon me, pointing right at my chest! My own "power and piety" were just not getting the job done. It was as if Peter were speaking to me: "No wonder you're powerless! You think that it's your own power or your own piety that will overcome those issues. Dopey! Can't you see?"
Of course intellectually I believe that God loves me unconditionally and totally. But translating that recognition, that belief, into behavior requires that I let go of my own "power and piety" and let myself be swept away by God's loving plan. That's my problem.
A couple of hours after that meditation I found myself lying on an uncomfortable table in a doctor's office, shivering in a surgical gown. A technician sent electrical tingly impulses through the muscles of my legs and recorded the results on a computer (it's called and EMR test). The second part of the test was administered by the doctor who stuck me with needles through which he sent jolts of electricity. Let's just say one is not likely to doze off during that part.
As I lay there during various mysterious pauses or absences that left me by myself I thought of how appropriate this was for me, lying there completely passive, not knowing what the results of the test would be. In other words, I was totally dependent on God. I imagined myself lying in the bottom of a canoe that was being carried downstream but I couldn't see where it was taking me. I lay back on the hard cot and let myself be carried along in the great current of God's love. I sensed the Lord's mysterious purpose buoying me up and sweeping me forward through life despite my illusions of autonomy and my petty attempts to paddle off in my own direction at times.
The EMR session was a blessed opportunity to realize that God really is the one in charge. The only reason that I can move or breathe or walk or speak or love or laugh is God's constant loving concern. My own "power and piety," then, are gifts that allow me to help cooperate with God's plan for me through loving and helping others, through drawing closer to the Lord in prayer, and so forth.
When I'm on my own, my power and piety have no direction, no meaning, but when I have the courage that Peter and the first Christians showed, when I allow God's power to direct my life, things become less stressful. So as I await the results of the tests I can practice lying down in that uncomfortable canoe.